A new device launched in the UK today will enable diabetics to manage their condition with a smartphone.
The £48 hi-tech glucose monitor, being rolled out at Boots stores, attaches to the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. It allows sufferers to check their blood sugar levels at any time using their phone or MP3 player.
The device, iBGStar, comes with a free Diabetes Manager App that makes it possible to store, track and analyse medical data.
Accurate monitoring of blood glucose is essential to the management of diabetes, which affects 2.9 million people in the UK.
It is especially important for people with type-1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease that can lead to dangerous rises in blood sugar level.
High blood sugar can lead to serious complications including damage to the heart, kidneys, nerves and eyes.
Traditional blood glucose monitors (BGMs) are palm-sized devices that test tiny drops of blood obtained by pricking the skin.
iBGStar works the same way but is just one inch long and plugs straight into an iPhone or iPod touch. Software carries out the analysis and flashes the results onto the screen.
It also allows users to follow changing trends and variations, and factors in information such as carbohydrate intake, insulin injections and exercise.
TV presenter Dominic Littlewood, who is helping to promote the device and was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes as a teenager, said: "I lead a hectic lifestyle and so keeping an eye on my blood glucose levels is challenging. iBGStar gives me the reassurance of knowing that I can get accurate blood glucose results using my iPhone, which I carry around anyway."
Sarah Johnson, from the type-1 diabetes research charity JDRF, said: "Good blood glucose control is vital to reducing the long-term effects of diabetes, but it can be difficult and demanding to achieve.
"As such, we welcome all developments in technology that can help people with type-1 and type-2 diabetes take control of their condition."
Dr Andrew Hockey, medical director for diabetes at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which produces the iBGStar, said the device was a "huge step forward".
"It harnesses the power of the latest technology to empower people with diabetes to manage their condition on a day-to-day basis," he added.